What is RSS?

This is the second in a series of posts that will address “How to use Your Blog to Gain Exposure” on the Internet. The first post addressed the shift in information delivery. Today’s topic, “What is RSS?”, will introduce you to RSS and its related vocabulary, and provide a 10,000 foot view of how RSS works.

Why do you need to know about RSS?
Because you want to communicate with your target audience, and as menitoned in the previous post, the habits of your target audience have shifted. RSS is a technology that will help you meet them on their turf.

So, What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is the name assigned to the behind-the-scenes statements (code) that must surround the content of a feed.

An RSS feed is content wrapped in RSS code. The “content” is usually the title of a blog entry and, say, the first two sentences of the entry.

A content producer is someone (i.e. you or an organization) who provides RSS feeds.

RSS Readers are software programs that recognize RSS code and display the content in a readable format.

People who use RSS readers are called subscribers (whether or not they pay for their subscription).

Aggregators are organizations that search the Web for RSS feeds and create an index of all the topics it discovers. Aggregators gather, then sell the information. An aggregator may provide an RSS Reader at its Web site and provide all or portions of the information to you for free.

Here’s how it works
First a content producer creates an RSS feed. Then an aggregator indexes the RSS feed. Then subscribers use their RSS readers to read it.

Remember that an RSS feed is only a snippet, so, included in the feed is a link to more information – to your entire blog post.

To learn more…
If you are curious to learn more about RSS readers, try Bloglines. Bloglines provides a free Web-based RSS reader. Click on the My Feeds tab, create an account, and select your topics. I use Bloglines to keep current on topics of interest to me. I find it accurately indexes information so that I only receive information that falls within the topics I chose. Best of all, my e-mail has been drastically reduced. I no longer receive e-mail alerts about information being posted. Now, I learn about the new information when I go to the RSS reader at my convenience. It is such a time saver!

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